Essential Terms and Facts for Institutions and Audiences: The Music Industry

Some media terms and facts that it would be beneficial to learn for the exam - courtesy of my teacher :-)

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 27-04-12 17:58


New media technology: all the gadgets that the digital revolution allows us to access the media (music, news, TV and radio, internet) with. Includes mobile technology (MP3 players, iPods and iPads, smart phones, netbooks etc.

Technological convergence: media functions and platforms coming together on one peice of equipment, e.g a laptop, smart phone or iPad.

Platform: a place/means of communication (so in media all this means is film, TV, newspapers, magazines, internet, etc.)

Web 2.0: the second stage of the internet, which is interactive and includes:

  • social networking (facebook, twitter, blogs etc.)
  • peer to peer sharing
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Consumer/consumption: how the audience consumes (MP3, phone, TV music channels, radio, etc.)

Fan base


Niche: specialist target audience (e.g. Death thrash black metal!)

Mainstream: wider target audience (e.g. Pop)

Genre: type, in this case type of music

Long tail: profits to be made from many niche sales, more choice, benefits both audiences and institutions)

Streaming: Spotify, Grooveshark, we7, etc.

The digital revolution has benefited audiences giving them access to vast music catalogues (plus video e.g. Youtube, information e.g. fan websites, ease of purchase or illegal download, peer to peer swapping etc.)

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Major record label

Big 4: Sony, Universal, Warner, EMI


Convergence of ownership

Conglomerates: huge companies that make or own a range of different businesses. Sony makes electronics and owns media companies.

Cross media ownership: companies that own a range of media platforms for example Sony or News Corp.

Vertical integration: large companies own all stages of production / distribution / retail

Horizontal integration: different parts of large converged companies working together for mutual benefit

Synergy: separate companies working together for mutual benefit 

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Institutions continued.

Independent record labels

Virtual label: everything done online: promotion, distribution etc.

A&R: scouts who discover artists

Production: recording, mixing, editing

Distribution: getting the product to the consumer or shop. A range of download sites (iTunes, Amazon, streaming sites, label or artist websites) have cut out the middle man hence the retail crisis

Physical distribution: CDs as opposed to download

Exchange: buying and selling, retail and distribution

Marketing, promotion and publicity: big labels have more money to invest in TV, radio airplay, magazine, advertising, merchandising and video. However, a vital part of your case study is how your independent label does this.

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Institution notes

The digital revolution has benefits for institutions, majors and independents:

  • easier production with digital recording, mixing and editing
  • attractive, easy to navigate label website as a vital marketing tool
  • promotion via websites for individual artists
  • music tasters, free downloads
  • new ways to sell, cheaper more efficient internet distribution, e.g. downloads
  • all the above have benefited indie labels. it is even possible for an individual to record and distribute from their own home.
  • however the downside for institutions has been piracy.
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Napster: first peer to peer music sharing site (1999 Shawn Fanning)

Digital Copyright Act: (warning letter/internet cut off)

ISP: internet service provider (Virgin, BT, Sky)

Generation 'why pay?': handy phrase referring to those who have grown up with easy illegal downloading

Crisis in the music industry: retail outlets/ CD sales/ legal downloads under threat

Alternative revenue streams new ways to make money: streaming, live music, merchandising. 

Argue either:

  • copyright infringement is illegal, stealing, depriving the artist and the label their due payment, and money for investment in artists
  • OR the music industry must adapt to the 21st century, there are alternative revenue streams, the labels have exploited the audience for too long and indeed many artists are against copyright.
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